by Tim Howard
GLIDERS could grace the skies above South Grafton after a successful series of trial flights this week.
On Thursday Grafton Gliding Club members tested the facilities at the South Grafton Aerodrome with a view to setting up their next headquarters at the airfield.
A spokesman for the South Grafton Aircraft Hangar Owners Association, David Mackey, said the move became necessary when the gliding club was unable to renew its lease at the Waterview Heights strip it had used for the past 35 years.
He said the two organisations had talks, which led to the trials at the aerodrome on Thursday.
"A total of eight flights were conducted on the day in a German-made Schleicher K7 two-seat training glider,” he said.
"It was towed up by a winch over 1200 metres and released at a height of around 400 metres or 1200 feet in glider terms.
"The longest flight of the day lasted over 30 minutes and climbed to a height of 2000 feet.”
The club's flying instructor, Graham Davis, used the opportunity to re-certify some of its pilots including the secretary, Bob King, who was instrumental in negotiating the gliding trial.
Mr Mackey said the trial was a success and also attracted public interest.
"The passing public on Rushforth Rd were pulling over in their cars and on their bikes to take a look at a glider launch,” he said.
He said aerodrome operators were pleased with the trial because it aligned with their mission statement of encouraging aviation in the Clarence Valley.
He said the gliding club members would like to conduct further gliding trials early this year.
"They are keen to expand their membership and train pilots at South Grafton Aerodrome,” he said.
"They also have a single seat Club Libelle (German for Butterfly) high- performance glider on their inventory.”